Are you making the same resolutions again?


As we prepare to welcome in 2024, we find ourselves in that annual position of thinking about what we accomplished in the past year, and setting some goals for the months ahead — many times, some pretty lofty ones.
Maybe we simply want to make more time for our family. Cook more at home this year. Lose a few pounds. Hit the gym more often.
It’s possible that we’re thinking about tucking the credit cards away except when it’s time to pay them off. Or we’re going to focus on finding that great next job that advances our career.
Every resolution is made with the best of intentions. But even that can’t stop the inevitable. Fewer than 10 percent of the resolutions we make for the new year will be fulfilled, according to one study by U.S. News & World Report. And with that failure likely comes the fall of another resolution many of us might make: feeling a sense of accomplishment by succeeding at what we set our minds to.
Why do we struggle so much to achieve our resolutions? Well, it might start with the fact that we’re making them at the start of the year, instead of doing it when we need to change something about ourselves. Remembering the time we stretched a paycheck because we spent too much money eating out is much better motivation to eat at home in the future than simply fulfilling some tradition of setting goals because we have to buy a new calendar.
But that’s not the only reason we fail. Many of the goals we set are just not realistic. Instead of looking for a smaller goal along the way to a larger one, we just shoot straight for the top. Afterward, we scratch our heads, wondering why we didn’t manage to buy a new car, when we first needed to seek the promotion that would give us the necessary raise to buy one.
We also fail to be specific about what our goals are. We say we simply want to live healthier, instead of defining exactly what that means. Even then, we may say “eat better” or “exercise more,” instead of “I’m going to cut out desserts” or “I pledge to walk two miles every day.”
At the same time, we fail to make a specific plan to achieve those goals. If we’re going to walk two miles every day, at what time of day? Where? If it’s raining, what’s our backup? Who can we ask to come walk with us and make sure we do it?
In fact, that accountability is another variable many of us neglect when making resolutions. It’s easy to make excuses to ourselves — but much more difficult to find excuses with our friends and family. Making sure someone is willing to call you out is a good way to increase your chances that you might actually succeed in what you set out to do.
And the worst obstacle of all to achieving our New Year’s goals? Pure impatience. We want to fit into that suit or that dress, and if it doesn’t happen by February, we simply conclude that it’s never going to happen.
Meeting important goals take time, and achieving results is much more meaningful if we take the necessary time to get there.
And think about recording each resolution somewhere other than your mind. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down.
But even with all this advice, there’s a good chance that come this time next year, you’ll be setting the same goals once again. And that’s OK, as long as you don’t give up because you didn’t achieve them before. Maybe think about a different approach, or whether the change you’re looking for is what you really want, or even need.
“If you don’t like something, change it,” the poet and civil right activist Maya Angelou once said. “If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
A new year could very well mean a new you. But let’s all go into 2024 with our eyes wide open, and with a smart plan to achieve everything we set out to do.